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Thursday, May 10, 2012

"Dead Ringer"

"Dead ringer" - An exact duplicate. A ringer is a horse substituted for another that looks just like it in order to defraud the bookies. This word originated in the US horse-racing fraternity at the end of the 19th century. Manitoba Free Press from October 1882: "A horse that is taken through the country and trotted under a false name and pedigree is called a 'ringer.'" As a verb, "ring" has long been used to mean "exchange/substitute" in a variety of situations, most of them illegal. The meaning for "dead" that's relevant here is exact or precise. This is demonstrated in many phrases such as "dead shot", "dead centre", etc.

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